During this time of giving thanks, I just want to say how grateful I am for the names of the schools on southern campus in Shenandoah County, Virginia. Honey Run, derived from a nearby mountain creek that feeds into Smith Creek and thus onto the North Fork of the Shenandoah River, is such an apt image for what happens to elementary school children as they move into North Fork Middle School.
In personal conversations, I always hear how much people love the view of Short Mountain and The Knob from Mountain View High School. It's the most iconic aspect of the school's location: the mountain view. The presence of mountains is something students - no matter their gender, religion, ethnicity, or political affiliation - from Edinburg to Mount Jackson, Quicksburg to New Market, Basye to Fort Valley can celebrate and savor with commonality.
Even as early as the 1730s, when the first settlers were arriving in the county, the waterways and mountain views must have been as inspiring and vital as they are to us today. They are peace-filled landmarks and bring people together in positive ways, which is precisely what a school system is designed to do. And for this, I am grateful.
Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears has some fabulous quotes. I'll share one of them here because it follows this theme of gratefulness: “We have a saying in church, ‘I may not be what I’m supposed to be, but I ain’t what I used to be.’ And that’s America. We are not back in 1963, when my father arrived at the height of the Civil Rights Movement and things were very bad for us as Black people. Are there changes that need to be made? Most assuredly. There is no country in this world that does not suffer from racism…But you have seen people who are dying to cross the border into America because they know that if they can get their foot on American soil, the trajectory of their lives will change — as it did for my father.”
I'm grateful Shenandoah County, like America, is on this side of the Civil Rights Movement, and that it is a place of hope and refuge for so many people from so many backgrounds. And that is precisely why the new names are so important, not only for the mental health of our children, but also the well being and commonality of everyone in our community.
SENK is an artist and writer in the Shenandoah Valley. The blog, 52 Weeks, is an ethical contemplation on the importance of choosing public school names that are not divisive within a community. Each post is based on over eight years of research by the author. 52 Weeks is a compassionate appeal to community and school board members to not revert to the names of Confederate leaders for Shenandoah County, Va, public schools.
47 / Maintaining Public Peace
46 / Brown v. Board
45 / Rebuilding a Pro-Confederate South
44 / An Out-of-area Education
43 / Where's the 'Common Sense Consideration'?
42 / Education Without Heart
41 / Self-Preservation
40 / Free Public Schools
39 / The Mask of Defiance
38 / The Golden Door of Freedom
37 / Prejudicial to our Race
36 / Are We Compassionate?
35 / Community
34 / Need for Radical Change
33 / Bitter Prejudice
32 / Fear of 'Negro Equality'
31 / Rachel, Lashed to Death
30 / The Whim of the Court: A Look at Jacob, Stacy, Lett; March & Peter; Jeffrey & Peter
29 / Ben, Tom, Ned, Clary, & two men from the furnace
28 / The Loss of Fortune
27 / James Scott, A Free Man
26 / The Unremembered, The Unheard
25 / The American Cause
24 / Tithables for the County & Parish
23 / Satisfactory Proof of Being Free
22 / Building Community Takes Trust
21 / Jacob's Case
20 / Whose Control?
19 / Racial Classifications
18 / The Cost of Freedom in 1840
17 / Sale of Children
16 / Bequeathal of Future Increase
15 / The First Annual
14 / From a Descendant of a CSA Soldier
13 / True Americanism
12 / Slavery. A Hot Topic.
11 / Real Character
10 / Real Apologies
9 / Freedom from Fear
8 / 250 Years
7 / The Courage of Christ
6 / Whose Narratives?
5 / The 13th Amendment
4 / Symbolic Act of Justice
3 / Giving Thanks
2 / Confederate Congress
1 / Veteran's Day